The homepage of the virtual cemetery
The observance of Undas
, or Day of the Dead, is a major family affair in the Philippines. In honor of All Saints' and All Souls' Day on November 1 and 2, tombs are cleaned and repainted, candles are lit and flowers are offered.
It is also a public holiday and, traditionally, Filipino families spend a night or two in the cemetery near their relatives’ tombs, playing card games, eating, drinking, singing and dancing.
But what about the large diaspora of Filipinos who are too far away to visit their loved ones’ resting places?
Enter the internet.
On Tuesday, the country’s bishops reactivated a virtual cemetery: Undas Online
The website, introduced last year, has a “Prayer Request” button where visitors can list the names of the dead they want to pray for. With another click, they can also make a visit to the virtual cemetery, where they can spend time in quiet reflection. The site also offers suitable prayers to be recited there.
Monsignor Pedro Quitorio III, media office director of the bishops' conference, said the service is for Filipinos who work abroad and for them to feel that they are also in the cemetery on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
"That’s the purpose of the photos of the cemetery, so that our overseas workers can pray for their departed loved ones by just looking at the photos," he said.
The service received 20,000 requests and garnered "positive feedback" last year from Filipinos around the world, he added.
Also included on the site are podcasts and catechesis on the liturgical meaning of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Msgr. Quitorio, however, said Filipinos in the country are still encouraged to visit cemeteries, oratories and churches to physically visit the tombs of their dear departed.
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